Date Of Arrest

On May 21, 2006, Anthony Devon Bell was arrested for the shooting death of five people. He was then charged with five counts of first degree murder. A review of documents from the case-file reveal that these killings occured at two separate crime scenes: a small church and an apartment complex.

The Ministry of Jesus Christ Church located at 1935 Dallas Drive in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

During the morning hours, Anthony and his family were attending a small church service pastored by Mrs. Claudia Brown, his mother-in-law. Both he and his wife (Erica Bell), with their three young children and a few family members, were all in attendance for the 9:00 AM service. Anthony was only a few minutes late entering the congregation room after his wife and kids sat down. Anthony was then seated next to his wife holding their newborn infant child.

After a moment of prayer, Anthony stood up asking to be heard while holding his baby. This was a common practice of the congregation, so the floor was yeilded for Anthony to speak. It was at this moment, according to Anthony, that he confessed to everyone present about having an affair with another woman. His wife, whom he was having a tumultuous relationship with, demanded to know who. When Anthony revealed it was her mother (Mrs. Claudia Brown), Erica Bell justifiably became very upset. She was yelling at everyone, including Anthony, and then stormed out the room only to return a short moment later in a fit of rage. She was holding a firearm and yelling, then began shooting. Anthony believes had he not been holding their infant child, he would also have been a victim that day.

Still yelling, Erica began emptying the revolver to reload when Anthony stepped towards her while holding his baby to grab the gun with his left hand but was unsuccessful in taking it from her when she jerked away. At this point, as Anthony recalls, he was still cradling their baby when she yelled at the two boys (age 3 and 6) “we’re leaving, let’s go” and then pointed the weapon at Anthony telling him the same thing. Anthony was forced to drive with his wife in the front passenger seat, kids in the back, as they drove away from the church. From the official records, not much is known as to what occurred after leaving the church before arriving at the second crime scene location.

What is known, from review of police reports, is that Mrs. Claudia Brown attempted to flee from the room when she was shot in the back of the head with a nonfatal injury and was able to call 911. In her initial statement to law enforcement, she identified Anthony as the shooter, claiming he kidnapped her daughter (Erica Bell) and their three children: his infant son and two older boys. She also informed the 911 operator that she was not aware of being shot but made it clear that she needed help. [** Click here to view reports]

Mrs. Brown was the only survivor after being shot at the church. She would later become a key witness for the prosecution at Anthony’s trial. As the official records reveal, when officers arrived at the church they discovered five people had been shot; three pronounced dead at the scene but two were still breathing. The other gunshot victim would die a short time later at the local hospital. Also at the scene were two small children (age 2 and 6), both unharmed. Mrs. Brown was then transported to the local hospital where she would make her second statement to investigating officers and say that it was Anthony Bell who shot everyone at the church.

An apartment complex at 650 North Ardenwood, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

      The record is not all that clear as to why or how Anthony and his wife with the baby ended up at the apartment complex. What is known is that at 12:21 PM Anthony placed a 911 call. During that call, he stated that his wife had held him at gunpoint all morning after learning of his infidelity. He also stated that she shot herself and asked that help be sent immediately. [**CLICK HERE, to hear 911 call]

      When responding officers arrived at the scene, they found Anthony still on the phone with a 911 operator while holding his infant son. The vehicle Anthony had driven was parked in front of an apartment building and he was found standing a short distance away from the vehicle. Unknown to Anthony at that moment was the 911 operator’s awareness of him being identified as the suspect of the church shooting; which took place earlier that morning. Detectives at the time were under the impression it was Anthony as the shooter based on Claudia Brown’s statements. Anthony was then handcuffed and placed in the back of a police vehicle.

      At the crime scene, investigators discovered Erica Bell’s body seated in the front passenger seat of a tan Nissan Maxima automobile. Upon closer inspection, it was obvious to law enforcement that the cause of death was a single gunshot wound to the head (behind the right ear). Officers also found a .38 caliber revolver handgun in Erica’s right hand. The weapon was removed and placed into an evidence bag. A chemical analysis field test was conducted revealing gunshot residue on both Erica’s and Anthony’s hands. Anthony was then placed under arrest for murder and was taken to the police station for questioning.

During the interrogation, Anthony told the detectives that two weeks prior there was a separation in his marriage and stated how he met his wife and kids at a local JACK-IN-THE-BOX for breakfast, before going to church. This was the reason for being in two separate vehicles that morning. Anthony further stated they both arrived at the church parking area at the same time (despite what was said later at trial), and that he was the last person to enter the congregation room before sitting down next to his wife.

      As recounted above, Anthony told officers what happened at the church, about his confession of having an affair with Claudia Brown, that his wife became enraged, shot everyone, and then would eventually shoot herself at the apartment complex. However, relying on Mrs. Brown’s statements, the detectives told Anthony his story was inconsistent with what they knew. At this point in their interrogation of Anthony, the questioning became more aggressive despite his claim of innocence for these crimes. This badgering prompted Anthony to make repeated requests for an attorney before the interrogation was finally ended. Anthony was then transported to the parish prison and booked on five counts of first degree murder.